It was a life jolt, one of the few experiences I can point to as a Game Changer. It rattled me then and it rattles me still, affecting all of the months and years in between.
Out of the country for the first time at sixteen, a new love of adventure was being born in my soul. And little did I know, so much more.
The Romanian morning was chilly as my friend and I folded ourselves into the backseat of a tiny car and chatted our way to our destination. We had spent a few days at a beautiful, American-designed orphanage when a friend invited us to broaden our experiences even further.
This new friend hadn’t given much detail and we hadn’t known to ask.
Our ride ended at a large, colorless building. A mentally disabled young man fumbled with a spread of keys until the appropriate one was found and the heavy door creaked open.
The cement walls inside guided us up the cement stairs which turned right and led us down a cement hall.
And that is where we saw them.
This would become one of the defining moments in my life.
This dismal orphanage housed kids of all ages with special needs. It then proceeded to break my heart.
That day found me giving piggy back rides to a 5-year-old boy that turned out to be a 14-year-old girl.
That day found me in a laying room smiling at bedridden kids waiting out their next 24 hours.
That day found me giving away my pre-chewed gum and pre-used bandaid to kids with outstretched hands.
That day found my heart tender and raw.
Upon returning to life back in my midwest, middle-class life, I felt disturbed.
My friends and family asked me about my trip. I tried to convey the poverty and the smiles and the hope and the hopelessness so they could understand. But I couldn’t. And they didn’t.
Soon everyone forgot that I had even traveled and were puzzled at the new me. But I couldn’t forget.
After a few months, readjustment did come.
But after you have seen, you cannot unsee. After you know, you cannot un-know.
That two-week trip changed my passions. I wanted more.
Over the next three years I spent time in Brooklyn, NYC; Thailand, Vietnam, China and Haiti.
I met an exceptional almost-man on one of those trips who became my husband in a speedy quick way.
We loved God and his kinds of adventures and decided from the beginning of our relationship that we would move overseas.
When this great man and I returned to our North American home, it was with a crew of five but we couldn’t stop.
We adopted two more into our family because every adventure of the previous ten years had plopped us down in front of vulnerable kids and we could not forget.
If this sounds dramatic, I apologize.
But what I know to be true in my own life, is that those two weeks in Romania changed the trajectory of my life.
That’s the thing with trajectories: a slight shift in direction might seem insignificant at the time, but as the years roll on, the distance between what could have been and what is, is vast.
Did my dad hear an angelic voice urging him to take me on his mission trip?
Not that I recall.
Did my parents understand that this would be a game changer for me?
Not a chance.
What they did do is say yes to an opportunity.
I’m determined. Parents, I am so determined to do the same for my kids.
Events, trips, adventures that will shape our kids, impress them, wake them up.
What is inside of our kids? What purposes and passions is God birthing in them?
They may never go on to be theologians, missionary pilots or full time pastors, but the secretive work of the heart is bottomless.
Our kids will be changed but maybe not always in obvious ways.
The trajectories of their lives will shift a degree or two.
Friends, Adventure is coming for our kids.
All we need to do is say Yes!
Our kids will reap the rewards of their God-adventures for the rest of their lives.
Not even kidding.
For more, check out:
To Travel or Not to Travel: Five Reasons to Take Kids to the Developing World.
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